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i've been talking a lot about Etsy lately. it's a website i depend on to put a roof over my head -- although over and over, they poke holes in it with the many changes they make to the site, and now, the unpredictable future that accompanies their stock offering. (which motivated me to relaunch my online store on my website)

you can hear me (and more importantly, an journalist from WSJ who has been writing about Etsy) talk about what these changes might mean on this podcast: Etsy: DIY to IPO



maybe you'll also hear a quiver in my voice because speaking about the Etsy experience comes with a sort of looming threat they've established over the years that they can close your business and shut you down, maybe even if they just don't like what you've said.

i really feel the majority of serious Etsy sellers live in a perpetual state of fear: fear of constant changes Etsy makes to the site that cause their sales to spike and plummet unpredictably and without recourse, fear of negative feedback, fear of being copied, fear of an uncertain future with a website who has all but hidden and locked down the branding and customer base of each of their shops… this list can go on. and i'm writing this post in the middle of the night because worry about Etsy literally has kept me up at night. because instead of listening and actively responding and making changes that serve rather than alienate their sellers, they could just shut me down.

artists like me on Etsy should feel utterly supported by and heard by this platform -- we drive Etsy and make it special (and, according to this podcast, account for 97% of their revenue) but there is such an imbalance here. years ago, Etsy straight up broke their search function so only an SEO guru - not a crafter - can be found. they removed the very idea of a homepage and turned it into a feed of their marketing team's picks. most recently, they've made some really damaging and scary changes to their etsy app, and even to their accounting reports.

and their marketing team's "picks" -- what they face out to their millions of members -- are NOT reflective of the Etsy / craft community i know, built by real artists, movers and shakers. Etsy's marketing team defines and highlights "popular shops" differently, too.

but here's the thing: Etsy has been - and sometimes still is - an awesome website with wonderful potential to support and sustain artists (real artists, not resellers of Alibaba stuff). they certainly have done this in the past. and I know amazing people (or at least one really amazing person) who works there who has helped me understand changes on Etsy during some of my darkest hours with Etsy.

but Etsy is making some decisions lately that really hurt and scare individuals like me who've knit their businesses together with a changing marketplace and no longer can trust what might lie ahead or what it means for their businesses.

thanks to Julie Sabatier for the interview and for asking all the right questions and for this thoughtful podcast. for more info about this episode & her podcast – Rendered Radio – go here.

recently, Etsy quietly announced an update to their app: etsy listings will now contain "similar items" by other shops.

this has created room for knock offs and copies and just crappy crap to be displayed right within a listing, alongside the listing, and even worse - to appear authored by the owner of the original listing.

In my listing for this (first image); we get this (etsy app image):


In my listing for this (first image); we get this (etsy app image):


"Meet the owner!"…are you kidding me?

aside from this crappy garage sale aesthetic that all shops now have, and the completely disingenuous motivation behind this change on Etsy's part making all shops look like all they sell is complete garbage related by keywords, i think this shows an even deeper problem at Etsy:

i think they honestly do not know what they offer as a website anymore. literally no one is selling on Etsy because they want their crap randomly displayed next to someone else's crap.

clearly they're trying to compete with the aesthetic and mission of websites like Amazon and eBay. they're, in my opinion, doing the exact opposite of what a website with so many artists behind it should be doing.

no titleno, i did not make this. and i am not the owner. i hate you, $1 to-do list person who copied my item tags.

Don't even get me started on what comes up when you search my shop name boygirlparty®

Maybe Etsy's out to a catered lunch (they literally get those twice a week…seriously, not kidding, google "Eatsy"), or maybe they're too busy celebrating the success of their stock options turning into actual money to care about how actually upsetting this is for sellers. Yep, because Etsy recently announced an IPO for Etsy stock and intent to serve businesses that can sell in volume for the benefit and interest of shareholders: their prospectus outlined they make more money from sellers than they do from the actual sale of goods.

Um, is anybody home over there? Etsy sellers, this is your cue to ask yourself: what in the actual hell is happening

i wish Etsy would open a curated section of their marketplace. Something like "Etsy Select" where buyers can purchase ACTUAL one-of-a-kind, unique items like original paintings. it would show Etsy's sense of vision and support of originality, rather than their lust to become the next amazon – which, despite the fact that the site is literally powered by a hundred thousand shops like mine generally working for below minimum wage because they're self employed, will never happen.

or, i wish Etsy would hire some people in marketing who understand what longtime, established sellers like me (because we're the lifeblood of etsy) really need: an occasional spotlight to Etsy's millions of customers.

some incentive to make us stay.

in other words: No, Etsy -- "Popular shops" are usually not those reselling Burberry scarves with 9 reviews or shelf shops with 4 items / 9 sales (but over 10,000 views -- i assume thanks to "Etsy Picks"):

 

but, as they make decisions like this, watch as they become the next eBay.
or, just open the app: it already looks that way over there.


PS: my parachute: http://shop.boygirlparty.com
PPS: the only place Etsy sellers can speak out about this is in the forums. Where no one goes ever.

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walking around as a ghost

something i think a lot about, i guess, is how indifferent people are toward each other unless they have something to offer each other (money, fame, entertainment,…?)

sometimes i feel like i am walking around as a ghost, spectator, seeing this – seeing that it doesn't matter how hard you work or how honest you are or how kind you are, if you don't have those "things" people lust after – and feeling so, so sad that this is how our society values its people. this is how people decide where to put their focus.

& that i never noticed this is the way the world works before.

how idealistic and silly of me.

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persian new year

i know i've written about persian new year before, but i can't find the past entry to link it.

basically, at the vernal equinox and the first day of spring, persians celebrate the new year.

and this makes so much more sense, doesn't it?

you prepare yourself for the new year with a clean home and clear conscience, you spend time with loved ones and dear friends, exchanging money and eating sweets. fresh flowers. goldfish.

there are traditions and superstitions and they're all lovely.

i really feel like this march 20th is going to be a fresh new year. our house is very clean! i created a new website! (http://shop.boygirlparty.com) i'm officially done with all my over-volunteering on things like teaching and library fundraisers and illustration conferences that left me feeling overworked and often under appreciated! my husband is healing from his devastating surf injury! things are just looking up in all kinds of ways.

i write so much about work here. there are so many disappointments in a career as an artist (or any kind of creative.) writers receive rejections, artists get passed up, our projects get killed or never picked up, or just fail. i have no control over whether people choose to support my work or not.

but what i can do is try to enjoy what i'm working on, and work on things i enjoy. and hope.

here's to a hopeful year.

Tags:

praise

masterpieces are made "by careful scrutiny" and not "by unanimous praise."


from the wiki for Boyhood.
which i really enjoyed.


much to update, but i'm sick of being in front of the computer for now so here's the shortest version:

  • just finished my semester teaching at RISD, absolutely loved my students & had an amazing semester in rhode island. best part was hanging with old friends. worst part was taking the bus in extreme snow with extreme delays.

  • went to iceland and snorkeled and ice climbed. went to new hampshire, boston and new york.

  • michael had a bad accident and is on crutches/in stitches. (he's ok)

  • my new paintings are online and i am so proud of them.

  • my illustration is in Austin Monthly & this year I hope to do more illustration somehow. my dreams are, as always, of the new yorker, the new york times, real simple, and something unexpected, something great.

  • updated the shop with new work for sale…the baby clothing is newest.

  • had visitors swing by our messy home this past week: dain+chris+clark, catie and zach from seattle, jenny and matt from chicago, shannon from colorado. i like when people stop by, and with michael off his feet, he does too.

  • trying my best to read the tournament of books shortlist in time for the judging next month. currently: all the light we cannot see, which is a masterpiece.

  • been spending more than the usual amount of time with my parents, and loving it. how lucky i am to have two of the greatest people i've ever known bound to me by blood! they are stuck with me.


  • it hasn't been an easy year so far, but things are pretty good.

    susie ghahremani / boygirlparty.com -- groundhog illustration for austin monthly

    new year

    boat illustration by susie ghahremani / boygirlparty.com

    i'm hoping 2015 will be kinder.

    i'm rounding out 2014 with gratitude that my loved ones came out of the hospital. my mom beat cancer. my husband is on his feet again.

    in my heart, i'm hurt. these past few weeks, i received several catalogs from my collaborators that just didn't have my artwork in them anymore. like they couldn't be bothered to tell me that i'm being phased out. i feel old. i feel tired. i feel unappreciated. and constantly ripped off. and underpaid. and mostly just unappreciated.

    i feel wobbly.

    a week at sea and i haven't gotten my land legs back yet.

    i hope 2015 will be kinder. i hope that i'll have more people in my life who value me and fewer that take advantage of me. i hope that i'll have mutually supportive collaborations. i hope that i'll have stability. i hope no one will steal my artwork next year. i hope for health and clarity and more love and wellness within my family. i hope i stop volunteering my time and love and effort toward things that make me feel ragged and abused.

    i hope for peace within and without.

    advice

    i got this advice today:

    Start saying no to everything that doesn't directly involve or benefit you. Just for now. It will help you to see how often you are taken for granted.


    This is something I have always had a difficult time with. I do a lot of things I don't have time for, things that don't directly involve or benefit me, because I feel like that's part of being a good friend, daughter, sister, wife, teacher, citizen, etc. It's even part of being a good artist. Sometimes you create work and pay for the materials and pay for the shipping because you support what the gallery does, or what the curator does. And there is no benefit in it for you, really - people might not go, the work probably won't sell, but your support was there. That's something.

    There's also the intangible - many of the books I've been a part of recently (with the exception of the Hello Kitty anthology!) have been *completely* unpaid. I know for a fact that the "authors" (often fellow artists / friends) make a LOT of money from these endeavors, but again, I thought the combo of supporting my friend's project / potential exposure was enough to cram it into my life. Is exposure a benefit? Is exposure even real?

    I think this advice came to me as a reaction to my volunteering for Handmade Holiday, a library fundraiser / craft show / music fest I am helping to organize here in San Diego (and sometimes, it feels, am shouldering the majority of the weight for)

    San Diego is notoriously devoid of culture. Our local media hardly covers it, there is a general community disinterest in any event unless it involves beer, there is no centralized visual identity or resource, and -- aside from a small handful of people like me- dedicated to extending themselves to make stuff happen -- absolutely no support or opportunities (at least that I've experienced).

    But if people like me don't step up and get involved to actively support local culture and art, who will? Is it ok that it may not benefit me in ANY way, that it completely saps my energy, that I feel my volunteer time often taken for granted - if it has the potential to create a more cultured city with more positive opportunities for artists going forward?

    I mean, do I need to set a boundary and say "not my problem"? Is that just what everyone else is doing? I don't think I want to be like everyone else. I just want to have more time, and I don't want to only decide what I'll do in life based on what benefits me directly, financially or otherwise. That just seems like a sad way to live.
    My husband and I just drove home from a lovely Thanksgiving with our family and friends. Passing by the Wal Mart and Fry's on our way home, the parking lots were absolutely full. People presumably rushed out of their thanksgiving celebrations to go bargain shopping for Black Friday deals.

    I'm all for deals – I know a lot of Etsy sellers offer them too – but WHAT IS THE POINT, you guys? Aren't the holidays about family and time together and thoughtfulness? Isn't hustling out of one holiday to go throw down money for another sort of against the very idea?????????????

    I urge you to resist Big Box Store Black Friday madness. Take the day off like you're supposed to. Enjoy time with your kids or your friends kids. or, you know, just resist the Wal-Marts of the world.

    Pledge to make homemade gifts, shop local from small businesses, buy handmade and support the work of artisans. The money you might plunk on a flat screen TV Black Friday deal at Best Buy could literally be the difference between an artist being able to make a living at their craft, or…not.

    Do whatever you can to bring the heart back into gift giving. Above all else, just put thought into your choices. None of this stuff is going with us when we go anyway, so make the memory/thought/intent/impact matter, not the discount.

    Can we all just agree that Christmas was never about coupons?
    That $500 doesn't make a big difference in the bottom line of big box stores, but could make or break a local business, a struggling artist, or a non-profit that serves a cause you believe in?

    As an artist who makes things for sale and who relies on holiday sales for a lot of my stability for my work, the topic of how and when people decide to support my work is something I think a lot about. And I'm lucky to have such great support from some of my friends and family! I honestly temporarily forgot that we live in a world that thinks of Wal Mart and Best Buy and Target before they think of making something themselves, or shopping from the store owned by friends, or made by artists they love or wish to support.

    Seeing that parking lot was a harsh reminder of the Black Friday madness.

    Shop local. Shop small business. Buy handmade. Do it yourself. Please.

    what chance do the rest of us have?

    Another really good article about the value of art in our society vs. how it is valued.
    I realize I'm posting a lot of these articles lately. Half to bookmark for self, half because they express a lot of my thoughts these days with greater clarity.

    gardensatnight phrases wisely (over here on Ello, which is basically like a new livejournal):

    Social media makes life - even personal life - oddly impersonal. We click "like" and feel like we've REALLY supported someone (emotionally, or in their work), instead of actually giving real tangible support. For example, someone is fundraising for a project or a charity, or showing their artwork, and we click "like" and feel like we did something good to support them, when really we did nothing. We no longer feel any obligation to actually put our energy or money where our mouth (or mouse?) is. We don't really show up for people.


    (i'm on ello, too)

    We need to be better at showing up. For art, for music, for film, for theater, for friends, for family, for life, for each other.

    everyone i know is brokenhearted, too.

    not for the faint-hearted, but this post, "Everyone I Know is Brokenhearted" articulates a lot of what i feel.

    wrapping my head around this part:

    Like minds need to pull together and pool our resources and rage against the dying of the light. And I do think rage is a component that’s necessary here: a final fundamental fed-up-ness with the bulls*** and an unwillingness to give any more ground to the things that are doing us in. To stop being reasonable. To stop being well-behaved. Not to hate those who are hurting us with their greed and psychopathic self-interest, but to simply stop letting them do it. The best way to defeat an enemy is not to destroy them, but to make them irrelevant.


    read the full thing, and you should, at: http://zenarchery.com/2014/08/everyone-i-know-is-brokenhearted/